In the 1,000 hours of school students attend per year, it seems natural that American students would graduate more than prepared for the rest of their life. That just is not the case, however, according to a Champlain College study. The study revealed that the majority of high school students lack financial proficiency in 27 states. According to the Washington Post, 16 percent of young people voted in 2014. It is no surprise millenials are enrolling in so-called “adulting classes” in troves. While schools in the US are successful in creating a skilled workforce, they fail to teach students basic life skills, assuming parents will take over that position. Not every student has this luxury, however, yet we are sending them into life without the tools they need to survive.
It is hard to deny there is a problem when a massive portion of seniors have no idea how to file taxes or what a credit score is. 70 percent of Americans failed a basic financial literacy test from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Many students, especially those in low-income households, are forced to get a job at 16-years-old or right after graduation. Finance education is not always offered in Oregon schools, and rarely mandatory. This often leads to accumulation of debt, incomplete taxes, and trouble paying for basic necessities like housing and transportation.
Thankfully, select schools, South included, are beginning to offer certain financial classes, such as Advanced Algebra with Financial Applications.
Matt Smith, South’s financial algebra instructor, said he was motivated to teach the class because of the lack of access to finance education for young people. Smith said former students visit him daily, thanking him for the valuable instruction. He asserts a need for required finance classes in all high schools as well.
“It covers taxes, budgeting, auto loans, mortgages… I would advise everyone to take it, it’s a very beneficial class,” said financial algebra student Ariana Riley ‘19. “If I didn’t take [financial algebra], I would be lost. I hope it encourages more real-life classes, like current events.”
Not every school is fortunate enough to offer financial courses, but those that do make a world of difference in students lives. Educated investors and tax payers means a thriving economy, lower unemployment and poverty, and future generations proficient in finance ready to continue the cycle. Not every student has access to financial classes, and its toll is clear from graduation. Contact your representatives today and tell them to invest in our futures.